Lines went around the block and cheers ran out as Canada made world history today. It is the first major world economy to legalize cannabis, conducting an experiment on the world stage. It’s a big day for stoners, dabaholics, potheads, wooks, and every other variety of cannabis consumer. But it’s also a major day for those who believe in individual rights and in opening the door to smarter way to think about drug laws.
Marijuana has been illegal in Canada for nearly a century, but now anyone of age can purchase it in a licensed store. The government has also promised to expunge convictions for possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis in the past.
The first federally legal sale in North America was issued at five seconds past midnight to Ian Power in St. John’s Newfoundland. Power said he’s not going to smoke his historic gram; he’s going to frame it. “I think it’s one of the biggest moments of my life,” he said outside of the store Tweed, according to The Guardian. “There’s a tear in my eye. No more back alleys.”
It’s not just the stepping out from back alleys that makes this a big deal (Canada has had medical marijuana for some time). Nationwide legalization is also a symbolic move made by the country on the world stage.
“I have never felt so proud to be Canadian,” Marco Beaulieu, 29-year-old janitor told The New York Times while he waited outside of a government marijuana store in Montreal. “Canada is once again a progressive global leader. We have gay rights, feminism, abortion rights, and now we can smoke pot without worrying police are going to arrest us.”
“There’s no question the world is watching.” Jody Wilson-Raybould, the country’s attorney-general, said at a press conference this morning. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected with the promise that he would legalize cannabis three years ago, and now he’s made good on his mandate.
As for how the system is working on its first day, there’s a lot of supply, but maybe even more demand. The CBC has reported lines around the block outside of Calgary’s two legal retail locations, with more than 250 people “bundled up against the cold.”
Meanwhile, the government-run, privately-operated online sales site saw more than 40,000 visits by 8:30 am, selling out of several varieties of flower and oil.
Congratulations, Canada! Congratulations, World! Hope you’ve been celebrating the right way, your nails and bowls staying nice and toasty all day.
Photo via Flickr user Cannabis Culture